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  • The importance of health and safety training in care homes

    By James Haggerty, Head of Health and Safety at Exemplar Health Care

    When considering health and safety, care homes differ slightly to other workplaces. They’re not only places of work, but they also act as a home and safe space for residents living there.

    Those working in a care setting aren’t just responsible for their own safety and wellbeing, but also that of the people they support, meaning health and safety training is particularly important. In a care home environment, each resident has different needs and requirements, so it’s important to take a tailored approach to each individual and situation.

    Here, James Haggerty, Head of Health and Safety at Exemplar Health Care, explains the importance of a robust health and safety training programme for care providers, which has people at the heart of it…

    Putting people at the heart of health and safety training

    There’s a plethora of health and safety guidance and legislation for health and care services. Sometimes, this can result in people losing sight of those at the heart of the service.

    People living in care homes deserve to be cared for in a way that promotes their safety, dignity and choices.

    At Exemplar Health Care, our mission is to make every day better for the people we support and our colleagues. That’s why we put people at the heart of everything we do, including health and safety practices and training.

    To us, health and safety training is about much more than meeting legal requirements. It’s about developing a competent workforce and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for our people, which promotes their safety, rights and dignity.

    A trained and skilled workforce is at the heart of good health and safety practice, which is why we provide training that far exceeds the mandatory requirements.

    Identifying health and safety training needs

    At Exemplar Health Care, we take a blended approach to health and safety training, to ensure that all colleagues are confident and competent in their role.

    Our central Learning and Organisational Development Team works with Home Managers to produce a training matrix. This outlines the training needed for each role in the home, such as Health Care Assistants, Nurses, Managers, Maintenance Operatives and Kitchen Assistants/Chefs. The training matrix also identifies specific training needs for each home, depending on the environment and the people they support/type of care they provide.

    The majority of the training we deliver has been designed and delivered by someone internally, so we can be sure it meets the needs of our services.

    As part of their induction, all new colleagues are supported by a ‘buddy’ in their home, to sign off their competency. When we do opt for external training packages, such as food hygiene training, we always use a reputable provider and do in-depth testing to ensure that it meets our needs.

    Tailoring training to specific needs

    If there are specific needs or requirements around one of our homes or residents, we’ll provide additional bespoke training to support safe working practices. For example, if someone uses a specific piece of equipment to support their mobility.

    We also have a central Health and Safety Team, and a team of clinical experts including specialists around learning disabilities, nursing, Huntington’s disease, dementia and behavioural support. Our in-house experts provide bespoke advice, support and training around their area of expertise.

    The Health and Safety Team sends a quarterly newsletter to colleagues which shares a roundup of lessons learned, the latest guidance and best practice, and any legal updates.

    They regularly ask for feedback and lessons learned, and this knowledge is shared across the company to improve the health and safety of colleagues and residents.

    Health and safety onboarding process

    We delivery mandatory health and safety training during a corporate welcome induction for new colleagues. We also provide refresher training across a range of topics, which is completed as regularly as required. Both use a blend of eLearning, face-to-face training and on-the-job learning.

    When a new care home opens, the Health and Safety Team spends a full day with new colleagues to run through health and safety procedures for the home. This is in addition to the mandatory training as part of the induction. The day cover topics such as fire alarms and fire procedures, food safety, equipment checks, and policies and forms, specific to that home.

    Introducing a Health and Safety App

    In April 2021, we introduced a Health and Safety App which digitalised all health and safety checks in our care homes. The app includes daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly checks, including but not limited to; security of the home, external environments, lighting, system faults, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, temperature checks, vehicle checks and nurse call system checks.

    The app gives a live oversight of these checks,24/7, so we always have oversight of compliance. If an issue is found, the app raises an action and assigns it to someone. This is flagged on the system until completed. Using a digital system for health and safety checks enables us to create actions, monitor when actions are completed, and respond much more quickly than a paper-based system.

    Now, we can see that checks are happening and actions are being addressed, which is driving compliance.

    Find out more

    We’re proud that our approach to health and safety training puts employees and residents at the heart of it. Our robust health and safety training, and the development of a digital Health and Safety App, ensures that all of our people are safe and healthy, which ultimately leads to better outcomes for the people we support.

    Want to find out more?

    Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care in England.

    It has over 35 specialist care homes across England, and growing. For more information visit www.exemplarhc.com.

    The company is recruiting for several roles across its homes including Health Care Assistants and Registered Nurses. Visit the careers section of the website to find out more: www.exemplarhc.com/careers/job-search


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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